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NBAA Offers Extensive Array of Information for International Operators
The manager of any U.S.-based flight department whose employer needs to start making international flights will quickly discover there is a lot to learn about flying outside of the United States. NBAA's Bill Stine, director, international operations, advises, "Be a knowledgeable operator," which means making a commitment to doing extensive research before ever filing that first international flight plan.
Stine has focused on the international side of business aviation for nearly three decades. As the range of business jets has increased, and international commerce has expanded dramatically in recent years, he has seen overseas business flying grow to record levels. But while aircraft have grown more capable, Stine says the most important element for flying overseas safely and dependably is a knowledgeable flightcrew, one that has done its research and has access to critical resources when problems arise far from home.
That approach is reinforced by "Section 3, International Operations" of the NBAA Management Guide, which notes that international flights make aircraft, crews and passengers subject to the laws and requirements of multiple countries. Regulations, procedures and services may vary from nation to nation, "requiring planning, ingenuity, resourcefulness and – most of all – patience on the part of the flightcrew and support staff."
In order to "minimize the impact of these variables and provide safe, secure and uneventful service, flight departments must put considerable effort into advanced planning."
Invest in Training
Stine believes an important first step before a flight department begins international operations is making the investment of sending key personnel to an international procedures course, which are offered by major flight training providers. Such courses, which may run two to three weeks, cover International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) annexes and guidance material, as well as provide an overview of the myriad regulatory requirements and operating procedures that flightcrews may encounter.
Get Informed About Required Documentation
A quick review of the International Operations section of the NBAA Management Guide offers flightcrews some practical information on the documentation they will need for international flights. These include FAA certificates, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) radio telephone operator's certificate and passports and visas for the crew. Required aircraft documentation includes an airworthiness certificate, FAA Registration Form 8050-1, an FCC radio station license, the Aircraft Operations Handbook and any letters of authorization needed to fly through specific airspace. ICAO requirements include the aircraft registration and certificate of airworthiness, a "journey logbook" and a list of passengers that includes their points of embarkation and destination.
“The most important element for flying overseas is a knowledgeable flightcrew, one that has done its research and has access to critical resources when problems arise far from home. ”
The NBAA Management Guide also lists other valuable information sources, including the FAA's International Flight Information Manual, which can be accessed at www.faa.gov/ats/aat/ifim. Another resource listed is the Travel Information Manual published by the International Air Transport Association, which provides monthly updates on passenger documentation requirements found in ICAO Annex 9.
Attend IOC and Other Events
One of the best sources of information for NBAA Members that fly outside the U.S. is the Association's Annual International Operations Conference (IOC). The 2009 meeting, which was held in San Diego, CA from March 30 to April 2, attracted more than 300 Attendees to hear a wide range of briefings and updates, including reviews focused on particular world regions. Each year, the IOC also provides a great opportunity to network with pilots who have been flying internationally for years.
Those who were unable to attend this year's IOC can still obtain much of the valuable information that was presented there. NBAA's Jo Damato, director, operations & educational development, says videos of 12 Conference sessions are available for on-demand replay to Members via NBAA's web site.
In addition, the Association is rebroadcasting one of the "regions of the world" briefings each Wednesday afternoon. Each of those presentations is expected to run approximately 90 minutes. The rebroadcasts are continuing through June and also will be available on demand.
Besides the IOC, Damato notes that presentations on international operations are always part of NBAA's Annual Meeting & Convention. Also, the Association conducts "a mini IOC" each year during its Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference. In addition, the annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE), a joint venture of NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association, offers numerous sessions that cover international flying issues, especially ones related to operating in European airspace. EBACE2009 featured sessions on European Aviation Safety Agency rules, the Single European Sky and environmental trading schemes.
Utilize Services of NBAA Members
Because of the complexities and constantly changing conditions in the 190 ICAO member states around the world, NBAA is not staffed to provide individual Members with flight planning advice for international trips. But Stine points out that NBAA's Associate Membership includes more than 130 firms that provide specialized flight-planning and ground-handling services at airports around the globe. That list of companies ranges from long-established worldwide firms such as Air Routing International, Baseops World Fuel, Jeppesen Sanderson and Universal Weather & Aviation, to smaller entities that concentrate on particular countries or regions.
Many of these firms also provide security briefings and alerts to warn flightcrews of political unrest or other potentially dangerous circumstances in a given country or region. In addition, the U.S. State Department posts travel advisories on their web site at www.travel.state.gov.
In addition to its own resources, NBAA is a member of and was one of the driving forces involved in the formation of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC). The IBAC Secretariat is located at ICAO Headquarters in Montreal, where IBAC enjoys permanent observer status. There are 14 business aviation groups from around the world that are members of IBAC, including associations that are headquartered in Brazil, Australia, Macau, India, Great Britain, South Africa, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.
Besides serving as conduits of information about aviation in their individual regions, IBAC also supports the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), a compilation of best practices developed by the industry. IS-BAO is designed to provide a template for flight departments, especially newly formed or rapidly expanding ones, to enable them to take advantage of the experience of their peers. IS-BAO's objectives include reducing the potential for repeat errors in flight operations, raising the safety bar, enhancing communication among operators and institutionalizing best practices in business aviation.